MONROE — Six years ago, PCM cross country coach Eric Karr had seven total runners in grades seven through 12.
Things are much different these days.
For the third time this season, the PCM girls claimed a team championship.
This time, the Mustangs cruised to the title on their home course on a hot night at Gateway Recreation Golf Course on Sept. 21.
“Last year we won this meet, and that was a shock,” Karr said. “This year, we knew that if we did what we can do, we should win it. You still have to run the race, and it’s not an easy course.”
All five scoring runners placed in the first 14 positions, three were in the top 10 and the Mustangs scored 45 points in the win.
Class 3A Knoxville was second with 85 points.
“It’s always fun to win this meet. It was nice to see everyone so close together and up near the front, too,” said PCM junior Kirstin Ives, who was fourth overall.
The meet was the first since the Mustangs cracked the rankings for the first time this season.
And Class 2A No. 13 PCM flexed its muscles in front of its home fans.
“I was so happy, I went to the girls immediately and told them,” Ives said about the rankings. “It feels good to be on that list.”
The top area Jasper County finisher was Colfax-Mingo sophomore Abbey McConeghey, who finished third in 22 minutes, 29.25 seconds. Ives was fourth in 22:32.37 and Lynnville-Sully senior Mary Kate Shaver crossed the finish line in fifth with a time of 22:46.66.
“I really like our course. It’s challenging. And it was hot so it was tough today,” Ives said. “Usually, I try to run with Abbey McConeghey. We have had similar times. I wanted to run with her the best I could.”
After Knoxville in second was Davis County (94), Lynnville-Sully (95), Chariton (113), Colfax-Mingo (129) and Montezuma (131).
The top 25 finishers earned medals on Sept. 21.
PCM’s other medal winners were juniors Megan Townley (ninth) and Paytan Schut (10th), senior Baylee Smith (13th) and sophomore Klaire Jungling (14th).
“If you saw our girls tonight, they didn’t look good physically,” Karr said. “The weather really affected them. But that shows that they are in the right place mentally. They did the best they could today, and there is nothing to be disappointed about.”
In the boys’ race, PCM sophomore Jason Stafford was top area finisher as he crossed the finish line in sixth with a time of 19:24.88. His freshman teammate, Beau Webb, was ninth in 19:32.99.
“I am just trying to get faster. I think working on shorter distances is going to help us in the spots where we need to pick up the pace,” Stafford said. “We are trying to help each other and support each other and hopefully at the end of the year we’ll be at our best.”
Colfax-Mingo junior Cauy Fitch was the only other medal winner. He finished 12th with a time of 19:45.19.
Des Moines Christian won the boys’ team title as the Lions had all five of their scoring runners finish in the first eight positions. The Lions won with 19 points.
Pella Christian was second with 66 points followed by Davis County (106), Ankeny Christian Academy (130), Chariton (132), Knoxville (138), PCM (142), Montezuma (175) and Lynnville-Sully (256).
“This is the best boys team that we’ve had in my six years,” Karr said. “It’s a young team, which means the future is bright.”
The Mustang girls are in a good position right now to clinch a state meet berth for the first time in program history. They have been close in recent years.
“They want this. This is not just a sport they are out for,” Karr said. “They know they have the chance to qualify for state. Every year we get a little bit closer. I don’t want to focus on the rankings. We could easily drop out next week if we have an injury or something.”
Karr has strong leadership at the top of his lineup. Smith, and most of the PCM girls, struggled with the heat. Smith got sick on the course and almost dropped out before recovering to earn a medal.
“I told her to get on the line. She stayed on the course, did her thing and then continued to run,” Karr said. “I told her to walk, but she didn’t even do that. She gets right back in the race and places. That’s the kind of kid we have leading this team. You can’t teach that.”
Schut qualified for state her freshman year. She has battled a rib injury during the early stages of her junior year, but appears to be working her way back up to the front of the Mustangs’ lineup.
“She had a little rib injury. It was making breathing hard for her,” Karr said. “She’s just working her way back into shape. She was at her race pace most of the way today.
The Mustangs run at Chariton on Sept. 28.
Here are PCM’s complete results from its home meet:
PCM — 4. Kirstin Ives, 22:32.37; 9. Megan Townley, 23:49.57; 10. Paytan Schut, 23:51.23; 13. Baylee Smith, 24:16.35; 14. Klaire Jungling, 24:18.07; 39. Ellie Steenhoek, 27:59.50; 82. Maddy Buys, 36:39.20.
PCM — 6. Jason Stafford, 19:24.88; 9. Beau Webb, 19:32.99; 39. Brady Worth, 21:36.09; 43. Cody Courtney, 21:51.13; 53. Jacob Cox, 22:26.48; 59. Caleb Peter, 22:45.61; 60. Brenden Vanderpool, 22:46.30; 62. Ayrton Breckenridge, 22:48.75; 76. Dylan Masterson, 23:21; 81. Carson Clark, 23:45.30; 87. Colton St. Pierre, 24:28.81; 90. Garin Padget, 25:10.77; 96. Cooper VandeLune, 26:14.07; 99. Garrett Graber, 26:28.03; 104. Luke Kramer, 27:07.75; 108. Payton Konek, 28:40.09.